BOC Update

Here is a great update from the recent work session as reported by Lakeland Currnets. – Clark

BOC work session – Dec. 4, 2014

Karen S. Neal with Bass, Berry & Sims, PLC; Lauren Lowe with PFM; Manual Naveiras; Chris Barnoud; Kevin Floyd and the BOC members.

Karen S. Neal with Bass, Berry & Sims, PLC; Lauren Lowe with PFM; Manual Naveiras; Chris Barnoud; Kevin Floyd and the BOC members.

The Lakeland Prep Project took front and center Dec. 4 at the Lakeland Board of Commissioners work session at City Hall.

The first resolution was to authorize an engagement letter for bond counsel services with Karen S. Neal of Bass, Berry & Sims, PLC for the issuance of general obligation school bonds for the Project.

Randy Nicholson questioned exactly what she will do and the wording of the engagement letter. He said if she is retained, she would only be responsible for part of the expertise needed, and not everything. He wants to know exactly for what purpose she is being hired. Chris Patterson, City attorney, said he has every confidence that Karen can deliver the services required. Disclosure verification is the service that Karen would not offer as part of her contract with Lakeland. She could add that to her scope of services, but it will not be known if it’s needed until just prior to bond issuance.

Randy asked if a public/private partnership should be considered for funding Lakeland Prep. Is there a way to get the money for Lakeland Prep besides bonds, he questioned. He noted this is being done in Virginia. Why not in Tennessee?

Karen said Tennessee law has not evolved to the point of such partnerships. Kevin Floyd, School Board chair, spoke to this topic and said LSB investigated such a partnership. They haven’t ruled it out, but it doesn’t look promising.

Randy continued, “Just because it’s a high hurdle, let’s still try.” Karen said usually the private/public partnerships provide for some type of income stream for the investor, like tolls from a road or fees from a parking deck. A school would not likely provide revenue for a private investor.

Gene Torrey, commissioner, asked about her hourly rate which she said is $450 per hour. However, if a contract is negotiated with her, it would be for a flat rate.

This resolution will be discussed further at the regular meeting Dec. 11.

A second resolution was introduced for financial advisory services with Public Financial Management, Inc. (PFM) as financial advisor for bond issuance for the Project. Lauren Lowe with PFM addressed the BOC about her firm. She said, “We will partner with the City to look at all options from a financial perspective. We will watch interest rates and the market.”

When asked about private/public investing, she said it is evolving but ongoing revenues are important for private entities.

The agreement with PFM was put on the regular agenda for next week.

Next on the list was discussion on a resolution declaring the intent of City to reimburse itself for certain expenditures relating to public works projects with the proceeds of bonds or other debt obligations to be issued in an approximate amount of $50 million.

Kevin spoke on this resolution, saying the bonds are not to exceed $50 million.

There was discussion that perhaps the resolution approval should wait until after Christmas so residents won’t feel the decision was made without their knowledge, said Sherri Gallick, commissioner. She is also concerned that if Lakeland Prep can be opened by fall of 2017, Lakeland will still have to pay Arlington Community Schools money. Chris Patterson said that would be about $250,000.

Manual Naveiras addressed the BOC, commended Randy’s idea to think outside the box for money sources and asked the BOC to delay the vote on the bond.

Mayor Wyatt Bunker said he has “Felt like the odd man out” speaking in favor of a vote, but he doesn’t want to mislead anyone. He noted there is a perception that we will prevent people getting signatures on a petition if there are meetings during the holidays. Additionally he said if the vote in the referendum does not approve the bond issue, he would be in favor of rescinding the property tax increase.

Kevin said it would still be important to go forward with the tax increase, as there will need to be money to build a school, one way or another.

Chris Barnoud of North Lakeland echoed Manual and said the perception on the original vote for the school system was misleading that Lakeland would not need a school building and not a tax increase.

Another resolution sought to authorize the issuance of general obligation school bonds not to exceed $50 million.

For the LSS five-year capital improvement plan resolution, Kevin said the top price per acre on the land would be $30,000 but didn’t expect the price to be that expensive.

All resolutions and discussions will be on the Dec. 11 regular meeting agenda, 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Additional topics included the Canada Road medians and a possible property purchase for a future Lakeland municipal center.